Museums with Games and other Public / Private Collections of Games


For those interested in games, there are a multitude of collections, both official and private all over the world. Our list of game collections is not exhaustive - if you know of more collections, libraries or museums featuring a significant games element, please let us know.

National Museum Local Museum Library Company Owned Private Collection Other All


Name Description Main Website Other Website Examples in GARD
Ballam in John Johnson Collection at Bodleian A major part of the Ballam Collection (mostly printed items) has been donated to the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera at the Bodleian Library. Items retained by Richard Ballam can be found in the "Private Collection" section of this database. The Ballam Collection focuses mainly on British manufactured games toys and puzzles, especially between 1750 and 1950. It does not attempt to be comprehensive for “linen back” games (for better information see the Website or card games. It includes related items which are not games, particularly an important collection of Dissected Puzzles (jigsaw type) by game makers and a similar collection of educational toys of the same period. Cataloguing of the Ballam Collection at the Bodleian is almost complete. Records can be found at (browse, set scrollbar to title). 1662 Examples
The Bodleian Library The Bodleian Library collections include the H.J.R. Murray Papers and the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera (which in our site has a separate Collection entry). More detailed information on the games content of The Bodleian, and specifically the John Johnson Collection, can be seen in a fuller note by clicking on The Bodleian Library in the Name column here. The recent additions mean that the Bodleian is probably now one of the nation's largest archives of British printed games from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Bodleian Digital Bodleian 14 Examples
The British Library The Britsh Library's Map Room holds a fair number of geographical games, mostly map-based, and the map-room collection can be searched separately by selecting 'cartographic items' from the catalogue subset menu on the website (although there are no images). The British Library incorporates the National Archive of Newspapers and periodicals at Colindale. It also holds volumes of uncatalogued game rules submitted as copyright deposit. The surviving ones (there was bomb damage) date mostly from 1882. Photographs of some of these, and of some catalogued games, have been taken to be added to this database, on the understanding these are for personal research only. The British Library 131 Examples
The Cotsen Collection, Princeton University Eighteenth and nineteenth century British games form part of the Cotsen Collection of Children's Literature at Princeton University. A catalogue is being prepared by the Librarians. Cotsen Children's Library
The John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera (Bodleian) One of the most important collections of printed ephemera in the world assembled by John de Monins Johnson between c.1923 and 1956. The majority of material is British and dates from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. There are over 1 million items in the original collection but additions have been made since. It includes the Donald Welsh collection of Card Games and Playing Cards, and the Mary Gardner Collection of Happy Families card games. It also includes games puzzles and toys from the Ballam Collection, which have a separate collection entry in this database. There is more detail in the Detailed Information note for the Bodleian Library (see above) 29 Examples
The National Archives Image Library Images of games and box labels deposited for copyright and stored in COPY 1 click on image library search Games 89 Examples
The Osborne Collection at the Toronto Library The Osborne book collection at Toronto Public Library includes a good collection of table games and puzzles for children some exhibited and catalogued in 1997 under the title “Ingenious Contrivances” by Jill Shefrin. The Osborne Collection 12 Examples
The Parker Collection of Games Held at Birmingham Central Library. Games are gradually being catalogued. Birmingham Library 9 Examples
UCLA Childrens Books collection Has at least two important British items Wooden boxes Cabinet of Fishes and Cabinet of Various Objects by Marshall UCLA Library 1 Examples
University of Columbia, N.Y. Two resources at the University with important information and Examples of games are the Teachers' College Library and the Children's Historical Collections